The President speaks

Cricket Canada President Ranjit Saini has posted a long video Q&À on Facebook discussing the senior team’s performance. He is fed questions and provides rather long rambling answers… at 55 minutes this is a fairly serious commitment of time but worth watching if Canadian cricketers want to learn more about the man in charge of the organization – and ultimately accountable for its results.

To save you time, Canadian Cricket Online watched the whole video and can bring you edited highlights. Ranjit Saini answered pre-prepared questions supplied to him by the CC marketing staff member, Richa Prabhakar. Some impressions:-
Saini stated that the team’s preparations were excellent. The Sri Lanka training was arranged at the last minute as plans to train in the West Indies were changed as the WICB could not guarantee quality opposition. The training group used are India based but India wasn’t feasible due to visa issues for some players. The last minute switch to Sri Lanka meant that the SL board could not be engaged to provide strong opposition. None the less he heard the training was exceptional
Comment: The lack of quality opposition surely seriously affected this preparation; the group hired to work with the team has been used intermittently since 2010, and there are questions about their suitability- surely it would be better to use internal resources than to rely on an external group operating on a for-profit basis?
He stated that the South African training was also good, and that the team performed well in three practice matches including one against the Afghan national team (note: this was actually an A team we believe).
The performance in the first three matches was a major disappointment and did not reflect the pre-tournament reports, or the way the way the team played subsequently. He said it was like a different team entirely without the energy expected. He is awaiting a report from coach, manager and players as to what happened.
He stated that Cricket Canada spent $650,000 on team preparation, $140,000 previously budgeted, plus $500,000 sourced from the Global T20. He noted players were given three month contracts to play for Canada, including one month to allow players who had left jobs to find something after the event.
Comment: we were told that the Global T20 money was to be allocated to cricket development and the high performance programme, not the national team. This means little funds will be going into these areas for the next while.
When asked what the failure to qualify meant, Saini tried to portray it as an opportunity, suggesting that the Global T20, plus the CricketFest tournament would provide pathways for development, as well as the ICC tournaments against Division 3 opponents. He did indicate it was bitterly disappointing however.

He talked about the selectors, and claimed that the by-laws mandated a regional representation (note: this is not the case; selection is dealt with in a policy, not the by-laws, but indeed is regionally based). He stated that CC asked Ontario to nominate two selectors, to work with selectors from BC, Prairies and eastern Canada; all selectors have first-class experience or were national team players. He stated that selection was independent of president and board (although the board approves final selections, he stated it had never changed them, although earlier he said the board rarely changes them). He pointed out that his own son was never chosen for Canada as an example of how he has no influence.

He spoke at length about the hard work of the board and its volunteer nature, indicating he worked 14-16 hours/ day for Cricket Canada. He stated he is very happy with the work the board is doing, and people need to understand it better. He stated that as president he is responsible for day to day operations of CC, as mandated by the by-laws. He acknowledged that better communication would lead to better understanding.

He indicated that CC gets $80,000 from government of which $70,000 is spent on complying with their requirements. He suggested that those who want to see Canadian cricket improve should call their MP asking for more funding for the sport.

When asked about opportunities for youth he said that this is a great time for young players with the Global T20 needing 48 Canadians as it evolves.

There was definitely more said but these areas seem to be of interest. There were huge areas not discussed, including the process of appointing an external coach without following the policy outlined by CC, the absence of many promising young players from the squad, and the details of the selection process – we still do not know who the selectors actually are!. He did indicate that he is ultimately responsible for the performance, but there was little evidence of taking any responsibility, with the claims that the board is functioning well, and that team preparations were excellent seeming at odds with what most people are observing from the outside. Going forward it seems that the Global T20 is being seen as the saviour of high level Canadian cricket, but this is a third party league, not part of Cricket Canada. The request to call our MPs to ask for more money surely is dependent on faith in the organization to spend such money widely- that faith is not currently there, either from fans, or the various levels of government handing out the money.

The board need to be measured on their ability to deliver on their own strategic plan. A critical metric of this was achieving ODI status by 2020. They have failed in this objective, and ODI status now is on hold for 2 years at least. It appears that very few other goals of the plan are being worked on, let alone attained.
Saini promised further live events involving others- perhaps prompted by the upcoming Cricket Canada AGM and elections. One hopes that the board will be held to full account by its members.

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